ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) Injury Specialist Q&A
ACL injuries are most often sustained through a sudden stop, change in direction, or jumping and landing in sports. ACL injury is a sprain or a tear that can be painful. The Orthopedic Group is here to help treat your ACL injury. Please contact us for more information or schedule an appointment online. We have convenient locations to serve you in Leesburg VA, Lansdowne VA, and Stone Springs VA!
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An ACL (or anterior cruciate ligament) injury is the result of a complete or partial tear or sprain of the ACL. The ACL is one of the major ligaments found in the knee, connecting the femur, or thigh bone, to the tibia, or shin bone. The ACL helps stabilize the knee by preventing the tibia from shifting too far out of line with the femur and keeps the knee and leg bones in place during physical activities. ACL injuries are most often sustained through a sudden stop, change in direction, or jumping and landing in sports. Basketball, volleyball, football, skiing, and gymnastics are common sports where participants have a higher likelihood of suffering from an ACL injury due to the nature of the sport and the movements involved in it. Injuries to the ligament can also happen as a result of overstretching. Patients often report hearing or feeling a “pop” in the knee when they have sprained or torn their ACL. The patient may find their affected knee becomes swollen, is too painful to put weight on, or feels wobbly or unstable, depending on the severity of the injury and if it’s a tear or sprain.
The short answer is yes, you can walk with a torn ACL. However, consultation with your doctor or a medical professional will determine the best treatment and course of action for the recovery of the injury. Depending on the severity of the torn ACL, patients may find that their pain is bearable, and they are able to put weight on the affected knee. In more severe cases, the patient is unable to put weight on the leg. Either way, it is recommended to talk to your doctor prior to putting weight on the knee to ensure you are not causing further injury to it. Movement of the injured knee can result in small tears to the ligament, which can lead to bleeding in the knee. Your doctor can provide direction on treatment, and let you know if the knee requires wrapping to help stabilize it before walking, or if you require crutches for support while the ACL heals. Physical therapy may be needed as well to help strengthen the leg and promote the healing of the ACL.
Pain in the knee is not necessarily indicative of an injured ACL, even though knee pain is a common indicator of an ACL sprain or tear. A torn ACL would potentially have the following symptoms:
• A popping sound can be heard, or a popping sensation felt in the knee at the time of the knee injury. Many patients report hearing or feeling their knee pop when describing their knee injury to a medical professional.
• Intense pain in the knee at the time of injury, could be sudden and intense, or a searing, burning sensation.
• The injured knee may start to swell, getting particularly worse about 5-6 hours after the initial injury was sustained.
• A knee with a torn ACL may not be able to be bent or straightened after injury. Depending on the severity of the tear, it may be impossible to put weight on the knee that was injured.
Depending on the severity of the ACL injury, it can be healed without surgery. Many ACL injuries will heal by themselves over time. Your doctor or medical professional will examine your knee and potentially send you for an X-ray or MRI to diagnose the extent of the injury and determine the best course of treatment. Patients suffering from an ACL injury can find relief from some basic injury treatments. Applying an ice pack as soon as possible after injury, and on a regular basis for the first 2-3 days will help reduce the swelling and pain. The knee will also need to be braced and supported if this treatment is recommended by your doctor. Many pharmacies sell a variety of wraps or braces that can be used to support and brace the affected knee, or a more elaborate brace can be prescribed by your doctor. Physical therapy may also be recommended to help heal the ACL, as a physical therapist can provide exercises to strengthen the muscles and ligaments around the knee. Even if your doctor does want to perform surgery, physical therapy may still be recommended after the fact to reduce the chance of injury reoccurring.
Call us for more information or schedule an appointment online! We serve patients from Leesburg VA, Lansdowne VA, Stone Springs VA, Dulles, VA, Ashburn VA, Sterling VA, Aldie VA, South Riding VA, Herndon VA, Winchester VA, Reston VA, and Chantilly VA.